Zainudin to step down as FAS chief by 2015

Zainudin to step down as FAS chief by 2015

SINGAPORE - In two years, Singapore football could go on to achieve something that no generation of footballers have done.

In 2015, the Football association of Singapore will find out if its twin goals - of winning a first-ever SEA Games gold and making it to the top 10 of The Asian football rankings - will be realised.

Succeed or fail, the man behind these two bold objectives will not be there to enjoy the fruits of his labour, or to wonder where it all went wrong.

FAS president Zainudin Nordin will step down after three two-year terms in Singapore football's hot seat.

He told The Sunday Times: "I would safely say this will happen within the next two years.

"Whatever I could do, I have done my best. It will be good for somebody to inject a fresh perspective into the landscape."

Since lawyer N. Ganesan's tenure at the helm ended in 1982, FAS supremos have always been Members of Parliament - from Teo Chong Tee, Abbas Abu Amin, Ibrahim Othman, Mah Bow Tan to Zainudin's predecessor, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee.

At last month's FAS' annual general meeting, MP Edwin Tong was appointed as its new vice-president, leading to speculation that the lawyer is next in line for Singapore football's top job.

"Never assume," Zainudin replied with hearty laughter.

For someone who seldom grants interviews, the MP of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC was cheerful and relaxed throughout the discussion at the FAS' office in Jalan Besar Stadium.

Since his appointment in 2009, however, the 50-year-old has polarised opinions.

There have been highs.

With a bunch of rookies on their rosters, neither the national team nor the LionsXII were expected to win last year's ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup and this season's Malaysian Super League (MSL) respectively.

But the inspired tactics of coaches Raddy Avramovic and V. Sundramoorthy's brought home those two trophies, arguably the sweetest moments of Zainudin's tenure so far.

But even as the Lions stood on top of the ASEAN pile after the AFF Cup triumph, the FAS chief came under fire on social media for being in France, instead of cheering the team on in Bangkok and at Jalan Besar during the two-leg final against Thailand.

Zainudin replied: "People need to understand that the stars of the day are the players. They are the ones who won and they need to be the ones to be given the attention.

"It just happened to be a family holiday that I couldn't get out of. It was unfortunate."

The FAS chief has also come under fire for the Lions plummeting down the world and Asian rankings.

Singapore are currently ranked 29th in Asia and 155th in the world. When the FAS' strategic plan was launched in April 2010, the country was placed 20th on the continent and 127th worldwide.

And in an infamous Malaysia Cup group game last year, the LionsXII's negative tactics to earn a 0-0 draw against Johor FC at Jalan Besar to qualify for the quarter-finals prompted one disgruntled fan to storm up to Zainudin.

"I was walking out of the stadium and this fan was so upset and angry," he recalled.

"People are affected by such things. Honestly, the less said about that game, the better, because I myself was a bit perturbed by such things."

Regardless, Zainudin continues to speak to the fans, as he tries to put a finger on the pulse of Singapore football to find out what ails the sport.

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